This week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" is Geek-less, with John Bonnes halfway across the world and Darren Wolfson of KSTP and 1500-ESPN as guest co-host, and topics included the Twins signing Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden, whether they're done shopping for rotation help, alternatives to Kevin Correia, why Scott Baker didn't re-sign, revisiting Billy Bullock for Scott Diamond, betting on the Opening Day starter, and growing up with Doogie.
• I was a guest on "Fan Graphs Audio" with Carson Cistulli and had a great time chatting about non-baseball stuff for around 45 of the 50 minutes. We discussed the Twins briefly at the end, but not before talking about Louis C.K.'s greatness, how getting rejected made me start blogging, the downside of having to wear pants at work, being propositioned for sex, the advantage of having a name that starts with back-to-back A's, and high-brow versus uni-brow. I think you'll like it a lot.
• Congrats might be the wrong word, but Darren Wolfson and Joe Schmitmade Deadspin.
• Jon Heymanmade Deadspin too and as Hardball Talk readers know it was a long time coming.
• Both my IBM Thinkpad and backup IBM Thinkpad died more or less of natural causes on Sunday, so I decided to take the plunge and get my first Macintosh computer. I got plenty of warnings that it takes some getting used to and even then the number of subtle differences are more frustrating than expected, but after five days with a Macbook Pro it's easy to see why the cult of Apple has so many members. And the Apple Store employees in Ridgedale Mall were incredibly nice and helpful.
• Person you should follow on Twitter: Than Tibbetts, who keeps AG.com running behind the scenes, answers my annoying tech questions, and consistently passes along good Link-O-Rama material.
• Finally, in honor of Etta Jamespassing away recently this week's AG.com-approved music video is her 1968 classic "I'd Rather Go Blind":
This week's Link-O-Rama is sponsored by Minnesota's top variable frequency drive company, IDEAL Service, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your industrial electronic needs ...
• I didn't realize it until afterward, but Monday marked the ninth anniversary of this blog, which started on August 1, 2002 with a post about A.J. Burnettbeing overworked by the Marlins. That night the Twins beat the White Sox behind Eric Milton's three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout and Michael Cuddyer's grand slam. Two months later the Twins made the playoffs for the first time since 1991, shortly after that Burnett blew out his elbow, and now here I am.
I started as a 19-year-old in search of a writing outlet while home from college for the summer and now I'm a 28-year-old lucky enough to write about baseball for a living. In between seems like kind of a blur, but I know that without this blog and the people who read it I may never have gotten the opportunity to make a career out of something I love and for that I'm forever grateful. Whether you've been here for nine years or this is your first visit, thanks for reading.
• After seeing Half Nelson and Blue Valentine during the past week I've officially become a Ryan Gosling fanboy, which is something I never expected to write. Blue Valentine is definitely worth renting, while Half Nelson is a must-watch for anyone with Netflix instant.
• To anyone who made the mistake of not watching already: Netflix instant just added the first four seasons of Mad Men. Pour yourself an old fashioned and watch all 52 episodes. Trust me.
• Versus is becoming NBC Sports Network, which means I'm a step closer to that cooking show I've always wanted. "Aaron Makes Stuff With Rice And Oyster Sauce" is the working title.
• David Cameron, whom I got a chance to meet and play poker with at the SABR convention, has been diagnosed with leukemia. Whether you like his work as Fan Graphs managing editor or just hate when bad things happen to good people, root for him.
• I'm on board the Rick Adelmanbandwagon, which guarantees David Kahn won't hire him.
• Fedor Emelianenko went from the top of the MMA food chain to washed up in three fights.
• I was feeling good about our recent traffic at HardballTalk, but then I saw that my colleagues at ProFootballTalk had 3.9 million page views in one day. To put that in some context, AG.com has had a total of around 13 million page views ... in nine years.
• Curb Your Enthusiasm fans will like Jeff Garlin's appearance onThe Sound of Young America.
• I'm going to be on 1500-ESPN with Darren Wolfson before Saturday night's Twins-A's game, talking about potential trades and various other stuff from around 6:30 to 7:45. I'm sure we'll take plenty of questions and comments from listeners too, so tune in and/or give us a call.
• Rumors about the Nationals pursuing Denard Span continue to swirl, with Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that they may make closer Drew Storen available after declaring him off limits in talks with the Twins initially. Of course, a short time later Bill Ladson, who covers the Nationals at MLB.com, reported that they're "not willing to trade Storen for Span." In which case the Nationals might save the Twins from themselves.
Whatever the case, it seems clear that the Twins are open to at least discussing Span trades and even that surprises me. Unless they're convinced his concussion is a long-term issue I'm not sure what's accomplished by dealing a 27-year-old center fielder with good on-base skills, solid defense, and a reasonable contract that runs through 2015. Storen is good, young, and cheap, but if they're going to trade Span the centerpiece shouldn't be a 70-inning pitcher.
• Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Pirates have targeted Jason Kubel in their quest for a "professional hitter." Kubel is an impending free agent and shopping him makes sense, but the Twins will be in a position to either get a compensatory draft pick when he leaves or re-sign him to a one-year deal if he accepts arbitration. That same either/or scenario is riskier with Michael Cuddyer because of his $10.5 million salary, but Kubel is making $5.25 million.
• LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribunereports that the Rockies are among teams interested in Kevin Slowey and speculates that the Twins might look to swap him for reliever Rafael Betancourt or infielder Ty Wigginton. Neither of them do much for me because they're old, mediocre, and relatively expensive for 2012, but in theory targeting a middle reliever or a right-handed hitter for Slowey isn't a bad plan under the circumstances.
• Alexi Casilla injured his hamstring legging out a double Wednesday and has been placed on the disabled list with a Grade 1 strain, which the Twins expect will keep him out for 2-3 weeks. Given their history with return timetables this season, I'd expect to see him again in mid-2013. Casilla has hit just .248/.314/.390 in 37 games since moving from shortstop to second base in mid-June, but he's played better of late and as usual the Twins' middle infield depth is shaky.
My initial assumption was that Trevor Plouffe would be given the opportunity to play regularly at second base with Casilla sidelined and that may still prove true, but last night at least Matt Tolbertgot the start. Tolbert was demoted to Triple-A last week after hitting .181 in 55 games for the Twins and went 7-for-36 (.194) during his brief stay at Rochester, but Ron Gardenhire got him right back into the lineup as soon as he rejoined the roster and that worries me.
There's zero upside to be had with Tolbert, who's a 29-year-old career .229/.289/.326 hitter in the majors, whereas Plouffe might actually end up being a decent hitter if given a shot. Plouffe lacks experience at second base, but he played 34 games there in the minors and has another 680 games at shortstop. And lack of experience at a position didn't keep the Twins from calling Plouffe up to man right field and first base, neither of which he'd played prior to last month.
• Not that Casilla is much of a table-setter himself with a .322 on-base percentage this season and a .310 career mark, but without him batting second the top of the Twins' lineup last night had the .249/.294/.283-hitting Ben Revere leading off and the .209/.264/.236-hitting Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the No. 2 spot. And the 7-9 spots were filled by OBPs of .288, .288, and .245. On a completely unrelated note, Scott Baker took a loss despite seven innings of two-run ball.
• Now that Casilla is injured Cuddyer, Tolbert, Danny Valencia, and Drew Butera are the only position players from the Opening Day roster to avoid the disabled list. Span, Kubel, Nishioka, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Delmon Young, Jim Thome, Jason Repko, and now Casilla have each spent time on the DL, along with half of the 12-man Opening Day pitching staff. And there are still more than two months left to play.
• In adding Tolbert and Luke Hughes as infield reinforcements the Twins went from 13 to 12 pitchers, which is good. Chuck James being the odd man out isn't as good, but he was among those knocked around in Monday's blowout loss and they never seemed particularly keen on calling him up in the first place. James has thrived at Triple-A and has a far better track record than Phil Dumatrait, who sticks around with a 14-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 innings.
• Alex Wimmers thankfully seems to be back on track after sitting out three months following a disastrous season debut in which the 2010 first-round pick walked all six batters he faced at high Single-A. Pulled from the rotation and sent to extended spring training, Wimmers saw his first game action in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League last week and is now back at Fort Myers in the bullpen. Baby steps, but he's allowed three runs in nine innings with a 12/6 K/BB ratio.
• Cuddyer stayed hot last night with a pair of hits and is now 34-for-96 (.354) with five homers and 15 walks in 26 games this month. His overall OPS is up to .853, which leads the team by a wide margin and ranks 37th among all MLB hitters with enough playing time to qualify for the batting title. As usual Cuddyer is crushing left-handers, but he has a .407 slugging percentage against right-handers this season and a .435 slugging percentage off righties for his career.
• Mauer passed Tony Oliva for eighth place on the Twins' all-time walk list with 449 and did so in 3,119 fewer plate appearances than Oliva. To put that in context, consider that David Ortiz and A.J. Pierzynski combined for 3,233 plate appearances as Twins.
• After splitting four road games versus the first-place Rangers the Twins are now 27-39 (.409) against teams outside the AL Central, which is a 66-96 pace for a 162-game season. They're also now 22-42 (.344) against .500-or-better teams, which is a 56-106 pace.
• Headline from The Onion: "Twins Shocked To Learn You Can Score Two Runs In Same Play."
• After five years as the Twins beat writer for MLB.com Kelly Thesierhas left the job for a new gig as a communications manager with the LPGA. I was (too) tough on Thesier when she first started at MLB.com, but her improvement over the years was remarkable and she always took my criticisms in stride, or at least managed to act very friendly the few times we met in person. Best of luck to Kelly in the golf world and thanks for five years of Twins coverage.
Thesier's replacement is Rhett Bollinger, who's been helping to cover the Angels and Dodgers for MLB.com since graduating from USC in 2008. I don't know much about him beyond that, but I definitely recognize his name from various MLB.com bylines over the years. Actually, that isn't entirely true. I can also confirm that Bollinger has exceptional taste in bloggers and/or is smart enough to suck up to the jerk who was often critical of the person he's replacing.
• I'm sad to note that Nate Doggpassed away at age 41. His mid-90s peak coincided perfectly with my getting into music and after my dad got me a CD player boombox for my 11th birthday "Regulate ... G Funk Era" was one of my first purchases. Seventeen years later I still have all the words to "Regulate" memorized and marvel at Nate Dogg's ability to turn the phrase "and it's going real swell" into a viable rap lyric. Hopefully his next stop is the East Side Motel.
• Terry Ryan and Bill Smithmay provide some insight into why only three current MLB general managers are former MLB players.
• For years Jon Krawczynski has been the most underrated sports writer in Minnesota while covering the Twins, Timberwolves, Vikings, and seemingly every other local team in the relative obscurity that comes with being part of the Associated Press content machine. Now he's finally getting some attention, but unfortunately it's because NBA referee Bill Spoonerfiled a lawsuit against Krawczynski for this January 24 post on Twitter:
No one will ever confuse me for a lawyer, but I can't imagine how someone could win a lawsuit over that. How does Spooner prove he didn't say that, let alone prove damages and whatever else is required to win the case? Beyond that, by suing Spooner has ensured that thousands and thousands of people read Krawczynski's original tweet, which was initially seen by at most his 2,000 followers and was only re-tweeted a dozen times before the lawsuit news broke.
• Speaking of the Associated Press, they'll now be asking Krawczynski and other MLB writers to pen "hometown" versions of game recaps in addition to standard stories so local newspapers not staffing games with their own writers can better use the content. That helps newsrooms that have suffered through big staff cuts, but it'll also lead to even more cookie-cutters recaps. Or as AP sports editor Terry Taylorsaid: "They were more concerned with just getting it fast."
• Everything you ever wanted to know and more about Adrian Beltreand head rubbing.
• My latest podcast discovery is "The Best Show On WFMU" hosted by Tom Scharpling, who is somehow consistently entertaining and funny while doing a three-hour show with zero breaks. He rants about various topics, takes calls from an odd and amusing cast of regulars, breaks in and out of an ultra-sarcastic persona, often has big-name guests from the comedy and music worlds, and sprinkles in fake guests played brilliantly by Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster.
"The Best Show" is truly unlike anything I've ever listened to before and I'd probably classify it as an acquired taste because of the quirkiness and many inside joke-like aspects, but I've very quickly burned through two years of the decade-long archive and am convinced Scharpling is a genius. Along with hosting my new favorite podcast, he was a "Monk" writer/producer, wrote NBA articles for Slam magazine, and is doing a new television series with Paul F. Tompkins.
• In a rare trip to the movie theater I saw "The Adjustment Bureau" last week. I'm a sucker for that type of science fiction plot and the overall conceit of the movie was very intriguing, but the actual execution was disappointing, especially in the final half-hour or so. Despite some solid performances from Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, and especially Anthony Mackie it left me feeling like Philip K. Dick's story had been wasted. Grade: C-plus.
• Jim Nantz may be CBS' lead announcer, but for me there's no question that Gus Johnson is the true voice of the NCAA tournament and Greg Bishop of the New York Timespenned a very good profile of the undisputed king of exciting calls.
• Also in the New York Times this week, Grant Hillwrote an excellent response to Jalen Rose regarding the portrayal of Duke players in ESPN's new Rose-produced "Fab Five" documentary. Hill's entire piece is really good, but the last line is spectacular.
• I'll be rooting forTim Collins this season, at least whenever he's not facing the Twins.
• I don't watch many network television shows at this point, but four of the spots on my DVR are filled with Thursday night NBC comedies and I'm thrilled that "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" have both been renewed for next season along with "30 Rock" and "The Office."
• Tim Lincecum spent the offseason trying to put on weight and revealed his methods, which led to a wholebunchofbaseballscribeswritingarticles about how he often got three double-doubles, two orders of fries, and a half-chocolate/half-strawberry shake from In-N-Out. I guess that's a lot of food for someone listed at 165 pounds to put down, but as a longtime fatboy it hardly seems worthy of such shocked coverage. On a related note, I've started another diet.
• I'm writing some lengthy season preview articles over at Hardball Talk, including this one on the AL Central's worst team and this one on J.J. Hardy's new team. Check 'em out, please.
• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Regulate" by Nate Dogg and Warren G:
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